A court has heard how unidentified fraudsters targeted a Brighouse-based engineering firm in a bid to steal more than £370,000.
The criminals used a bogus letter purporting to come from a construction company to trick Alco Valves Group into paying £374,720.40 into a different bank account back in December 2016, but a few weeks later it became clear that they had become the victim of a fraud.
Bradford Crown Court heard that the huge sum had been paid to 33-year-old Ion-Marius Lungu who thought it was a joke when he discovered the cash had appeared in his business account.
Lungu, who lives in London, was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the fraud conspiracy and spent almost two months in jail, but prosecutor Mehran Nassiri told the court that his guilty plea to an offence of transferring £9,743.85 into his personal account had now been accepted.
The defendant went on to withdraw £1,743.85 which he used to pay debts, but the remaining £8,000 was returned to Alco Valves.
Lungu, who had no relevant previous convictions, told investigators he knew he shouldn’t have transferred the cash because it wasn’t his money.
Mr Nassiri said inquiries revealed that three other debit transactions from the account, totalling more than £40,000, had been made by others unknown to obtain cash and goods.
He revealed that after the fraud came to light Lloyds Bank was able freeze almost £320,000 of the stolen cash.
Lungu will now have to repay Alco Valves the money he took under the Proceeds of Crime Act and must do 100 hours unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.
His barrister Simeon Evans said there was little prospect of Lungu being successful because he had simply transferred the money from the business account in his name to his personal account.
“He was almost bound to be discovered immediately,” he told Judge David Hatton QC.